To put Accenture’s
recent hiring blitz in context, if you crammed all the young workers it on-boarded last year into Anaheim’s Angel Stadium, the new employees would fill every seat two times over. In 2015 the 27-year-old professional-services firm brought on 90,000 millennials—the group loosely defined as any adult born after 1980—representing 90% of its global hires for the year.
Accenture’s CEO, Pierre Nanterme, is a bespectacled Frenchman based in Paris (the company is incorporated in Ireland with sprawling global operations), and has worked at Accenture and its earlier incarnations since 1983. As a result he’s seen it transition from primarily an IT consultancy to a $31 billion professional-services powerhouse with increasingly digital aspirations. The generational churn over the decades has also helped him spearhead this next change, he says, which will see the millennial portion of the company’s workforce grow to 80% in the next 18 months.
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The primary driver of the talent acquisition spree is clients’ demand for higher technical skills, which has prompted the creation of business units like Accenture Digital, whose workforce specializes in areas like analytics and mobility services. It prompted a “pivot” in Accenture’s hiring strategy, says Ellyn Shook, the company’s chief leadership and human resources officer. The challenges set before the company were threefold: find people with specialized skill sets, hire a ton of them, and do so from a generation that has proved difficult to understand.
But Accenture’s greatest test may come after last year’s 100,000 total new hires—up from 60,000 two years ago—settle in. “Human capital businesses often get in trouble,” Cantor Fitzgerald’s Joe Foresi said during an investor conference with the company. “They have a lot of people, and then if business starts to slow, it can create a huge issue.”
Nanterme is undeterred. “We know how to make flexibility when needed,” he told Foresi. It’s “baked into where and how we hire.” He also downplayed the difference between millennials and everyone else in a conversation with Fortune. “Do you want an interesting job? Yes. Do you want a balanced life? Yes. And to make a contribution as well?” He asks. “Of course.” So does everyone.
Before too long, corporate hand-wringing about millennials may even seem quaint. Accenture’s interns this year? They’re from Generation Z.
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A version of this article appears in the March 15, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “Accenture’s Millennial Hiring Spree.”